I was fortunate enough to get my invite to the closed technical test for the new Hitman mode “Freelancer”.
This free update coming early next year (January 26th 2023) is right up my street. A Hitman roguelite experience. I mean, come on!
So, 60GB download later……I got stuck in.
Quick note to anyone that might be a stupid as me: If there’s a Steam test, chances are they’ll send you a code to download that specific version of the game. You don’t have to buy the game for the platform…… In other news, I’m now the proud owner of a Steam version of Hitman 3, which means I can now start again and replay the whole World of Assassination trilogy in Steam (already bought 1 & 2 for a second time, after moving to PC).
How it works – Roguelites
Ok, Freelancer is very much a roguelite, and I think we need to briefly summarise what “roguelite” means, then look at how Freelancer applies this formula to the world of Hitman.
To be clear, a specific definition of the term “Roguelite” isn’t something that exists per se, and is arguably ever-changing as new games come out and innovate upon the genre. So…..here’s my laymen effort.
A roguelite is a game that uses randomisation of multiple elements of a game, to make sure no attempt at completion is ever the same. Often experience and currency/equipment may be permanently earned as you gradually increase your stats and knowledge of a game. If you fail to complete an attempt at the game (usually a “run”). You lose all progress and start again, hopefully having gained some experience/knowledge/equipment or currency to help you next time.
Randomised elements are usually level generation, placement of items and enemies. Sometimes even starting gear and equipment. I played, and still play Rogue Legacy 2, which really ramps-up the randomness element. Hitman 3 takes these concepts and uses them interestingly in Freelancer mode.
How it works – Freelancer
Taking the above into consideration, and then factoring-in the ever so mechanical nature of the Hitman games (situations occur in very specific ways, and a lot of the fun is working that puzzle out). Freelancer really tips the game on it’s head.
You’re not getting randomly generated maps. These are all (not quite all) the maps from the World of Assassination trilogy. So, if you’ve played Hitman at all over the past few years, you might have a slight advantage, in knowing where things are.
That’s it though, Freelancer then takes all that you know about the maps, the events and the characters and jumbles it all up.
You pick from a random selection of mission briefs, each with random bonus assignments attached to them (themed around target and their crime syndicates). Then, you pick you location from the ones listed (you can pick whichever you like). And off you go on a mission. Missions get harder as you progress and finding the target in showdowns can be hard work!
To start, you have no weapons, so you have to collect what you can whilst you’re on mission. Anything you bring back can be stored at your safehouse for potential future use. These are persistent, so if you leave them in your gun cabinet, they’re there for your next run. If you fail your run, and have your weapons with you, you lose those, too. Freelancer giveth, Freelancer taketh away.
You have to be tactical and considerate of your loadout, especially as targets get harder, you want better gear. But running the risk of losing it always causes second thoughts. The number of times I could have done with a silenced pistol……but I left it to keep in my safehouse instead. I like collecting, so that’s fine, right?
How it’s shaping up
Freelancer, then, is kind of turning Hitman on it’s head and I’m all for it. Apart from some random spelling issues in the loading screens, this Technical Alpha was a triumph.
Playing maps in ways I’ve never conceived. Unlocking progress in my safehouse to unlock and access new areas and features. IOI could be forgiven for selling this as a full separate game. There’s hours and hours to go at. Small details and always a different run to take on.
If the core game of Hitman is about learning and improving your skills. Freelancer is about putting all of that to the test and sometimes giving you a stick to go kill a boss.
It’s random, it’s Hitman, it’s smooth. Freelancer, even in this stage of testing, is a suite of fun and a massive enhancement to what is already one of the best series available in gaming.
I can’t wait to the full release in January!
I’ve written (not always published) massive amounts of stuff for the World of Assassination trilogy of Hitman. Hell, I keep considering using Hitman and Monster Hunter as my “core games” for streaming.
Freelancer is really helping me lean towards that and re-consider my whole approach to creating content online.
No run is ever the same in Freelancer, like any good roguelite. The permanent additions to my safehouse are cool. I actively want to get it all kitted out with guns, gear and trinkets.
I think, after playing through these levels over and over, Freelancer has somehow breathed new life into them once more.
The continued feed of free content from IOI since the release of Hitman 3 has been incredible. Freelancer is the jewel in the crown of the Hitman post-release updates.
What an absolute masterpiece this trilogy is.